A few years ago, my daugh­ter gave me a sub­scrip­tion to the English mag­a­zine Coun­try Liv­ing as an on­go­ing birth­day present.

NZ Gardener - - Contents -

Bar­bara Lea Taylor goes on a magic car­pet roses ride

Idrool over ev­ery lus­cious edi­tion. While it’s grim win­ter here, I can lose my­self in the de­lights of spring and sum­mer in Eng­land, and dream on about how my gar­den might (or might not) look in a few months’ time.

In a recent edi­tion, an advertisement for drift ground­cover roses caught my eye. “These lit­tle cuties of­fer in­cred­i­ble ver­sa­til­ity within the gar­den,” it said. “Grow­ing to a height of 45cm they can be used to break up harsh lines and empty spa­ces amongst bor­ders while pro­vid­ing per­fect weed sup­press­ing ground­cover.” The three roses pic­tured – ‘Pop­corn’, ‘Peach’ and ‘Pink’ – were pretty enough, but I couldn’t help feel­ing a lit­tle sad that this Queen of Flow­ers had be­come lit­tle more than a pretty weed sup­pres­sant and ground­cover.

Prob­a­bly the English roses are sim­i­lar to our well-known Flower Car­pet roses, al­though these come in a much larger va­ri­ety of colours and some can grow quite tall if en­cour­aged. The white Flower Car­pet is par­tic­u­larly vig­or­ous and I re­mem­ber mis­tak­ing a row of im­pres­sive stan­dard Flower Car­pets for the inim­itable ‘Ice­berg’ in a friend’s gar­den some years ago.

Flower Car­pet roses were bred by Ger­man hy­bridiser Noack Rosen.

He em­pha­sised their dis­ease re­sis­tance. They were in­tro­duced to New Zealand in 1992 by An­thony Tes­se­laar Plants.

My favourite was the pale pink and white ‘Ap­ple Blos­som’, and I planted a bush on each side to soften the con­crete steps to an en­trance.

Re­cently the next gen­er­a­tion of Car­pet roses has ap­peared with a wider colour range and big, high-health bushes ideal for land­scap­ing. ‘White’, ‘Ap­ple Blos­som’, ‘Pink‘, ‘Pink Splash‘, ‘Gold‘, ‘Am­ber‘, ‘Red‘ (dark red with yel­low sta­mens), ‘Scar­let‘ and ‘Sun­set‘ are some of the va­ri­eties avail­able. They may not be the ro­man­tic roses of the poets but they have all the de­sir­able virtues for gar­den­ers – big colour choice, long flow­er­ing, easy prun­ing, dis­ease-free and drought tol­er­ant. Watch out for them at gar­den cen­tres, re­tail­ers and spe­cial­ist rose nurs­eries.

When it comes to roses al­ready in our gar­dens, don’t be trig­ger happy with the prun­ing shears.

If there are late and dead flow­ers on a bush, leave them there. Some might pro­duce hips. Roses need their win­ter rest and it would be a mis­take to be overly neat and prune too early. When I pruned my mother’s roses, I could see the panic in her eyes to­wards the end of June but I never had time to prune her roses or mine un­til well into July. I ex­plained that as long as it was done be­fore bud burst in spring, all was right with the world and the roses would be bet­ter for the rest, but I don’t think she ever be­lieved me.


‘Ap­ple Blos­som’.



‘Pink Supreme’.



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